Michigan Modular Alliance
Modular Alliance was an outgrowth of a shared vision of two members
of Rails on Wheels. Members Fritz Milhaupt and John Young (then of the
Capital Area Railway Society of Lansing, Michigan) while corresponding
discovered that each had wished to create a large modular layout using
the modules from many different clubs a la N-Trak. The first successful
implementation of this idea occurred at a mall show sponsored by the
Raisin Valley Model RR Club in 1993. Four years would pass before
a second Modular Alliance set up would occur, this one in conjunction
with the 1997 National Train Show in Madison, Wisconsin. That show
included modules from two other clubs, Cass County Rail of Dowagiac,
Michigan and the Saginaw River Valley club. This layout covered an area
50 by 70 feet and supported a mainline of over eight
scale miles. To achieve a layout of this size and economize on the space
required involved thinking out of the box in assembling the modules.
Gone was the normal large donut shaped modular layout. Instead, return
loops were created to turn our normal twin mainline modules into a giant
dogbone track arrangement. A twenty-block control panel was developed
that allowed the layout to support the operation of up to six mainline
format of operation on this layout evolved at the Madison show. Aristo-Craft radio
throttles were a feature of this operating scheme. How closely the operators could stay
with their respective trains, and the ability to always have a new view of the layout by
operating from both sides of the modules was unexpected. The result was an exciting layout
to run on, as well as one that impressed the audience with its size and variety of scenery
Since that time, the Modular Alliance has reappeared at the Port Huron show
in 1998 and 2000, and the Gratiot Valley Model Railroad Club's Winter shows
in 1999 and 2000. The Lapeer Model RR Club joined us in 1999, and the
Stoney Creek Club in 1999 and 2000. The 1999 layout for the Gratiot Valley club's show was
a free-form design which provided eleven-plus miles of operating mainline.
The potential size layout we can achieve is still many modules away. Six
HO modular clubs participated in at least one of these events. The North
Central Region is home to 26 HO modular clubs, with the potential
of creating a layout in excess of 65 scale miles in length.
If you or your club would like to participate in future Modular Alliance events, or
would like more information about organizing a similar event please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- John Young
One of our members has put together some common sense
guidelines for multi-club modular setups.
Overhead view showing 2/3rds of the Michigan Modular Alliance
layout at the 1998 train show at McMorran Place, in Port Huron, Michigan.